“In that day the LORD will thresh from the flowing Euphrates to the Wadi of Egypt, and you, Israel, will be gathered up one by one.” Isaiah 27:12 (NIV)
This week’s devotional can be found at https://depree.org/god-has-gathered-you/, and has been prepared by the Rev. Mark Roberts.
Isaiah 27 foresees the exile of Israel and, beyond that, the time in which God will gather his people once again. Though they have been scattered throughout the world, the Lord will bring them back to their land and to himself.
Isaiah 27:12 employs a harvesting image to portray this vision. The Hebrew literally speaks of God as threshing and gleaning the grain, using a process that allowed the farmer to distinguish the good grain from the useless chaff. The addition of the phrase “one by one” emphasizes God’s personal attention to each one of his children.
Most of us have not experienced literal exile in our lives. Unlike millions of people throughout the world today, we are privileged to live in the country of our birth and/or of our choosing. Yet the image of exile gives expression to our sense of not quite belonging to this world as it is. There is a sense in which this world is not our home. We yearn for the Lord and the fullness of his kingdom. We look ahead to the day when God will gather all of us into his new creation, a day when we will be truly at home with the Lord and truly united to his people.
Yet, in anticipation of that future gathering, God seeks us and brings us to himself “one by one.” God isn’t just in the business of “saving the world.” God also seeks us out individually, inviting us to know him and to be part of his work of putting the world back together. Our Heavenly Father adopts each of us into his family, making us both sons or daughters and brothers or sisters. He loves us personally and cares about every aspect of our lives. Thus, as we await the fullness of the kingdom yet to come, we are comforted and encouraged by the fact that God has gathered us “one by one.”
Have you ever experienced some sort of literal exile? When? How did it feel?
Do you ever feel as if you don’t quite belong to this world? When? What difference does this make in your life?
Have you experienced God’s personal love for you, his “one by one” gathering of you to himself and his family? How has this experience affected your daily life? Your work? Your hopes for the future?
Take some time to remember experiences you have had of God “gathering” you in the past. Remember how this felt and how you responded.
Annual Church Picnic
Our church picnic will be held on the church lawn on this Sunday, September 11th, following service. To pull off this event, we need your help! We are still looking for:
People who can help with set-up
Someone who can lend pop-up tents
If you want to volunteer in one of these ways, please email Gretchen or Pastor Chris.
New Sermon Series: “TOXIC FAITH”
This Sunday, our church will launch a teaching series called Toxic Faith. Every week during this series, we’ll examine what dangerous and toxic religion looks like and how Jesus calls us to something better than judgementalism, tribalism, legalism, and a fear-based faith that makes us afraid of God…or of our neighbors.
Resuming Music Ministries
The Choir and Bell Choir are meeting on Tuesdays in the choir room, with Bell Choir at 4:30-5:30 and Choir at 5:45-7:00. Feeling unsure about joining? Feel free to sit in on a rehearsal any time before deciding. All are welcome – no experience is required!
Sunday School Starting Back Up
Our church is restarting our in-person Sunday School program this Sunday. If you plan on having your child attend Sunday School in the coming year, please email Gretchen at firstname.lastname@example.org or Kim Schulz at email@example.com.
Small Groups & Adult Sunday School
Our Adult Sunday School and Tuesday Small Group are starting a bible study on the Gospel of Matthew this fall! Bruce LaPenta will lead Sunday’s group, which will begin on September 18th, and will meet Sundays at 9 am in the A-Wing Conference room. The Tuesday group will be facilitated by Pastor Chris and will meet at 1 pm starting September 20th. Finally, we encourage everyone who decides to participate in this study to pick up a copy of the Matthew Immersion Bible Study. This resource will help you better understand the book of Matthew. Copies can be found in the church office.
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